Three European cities win mobility awards for environmentally friendly initiatives


Europe’s leaders in sustainable urban mobility and transport were honored last week at the CIVITAS Awards 2021, which took place as part of the CIVITAS Forum Conference 2021. The cities of Parma (Italy), Aachen (Germany), and Gdynia (Poland) were recognized in three distinct categories, winning Europe’s most prestigious prizes for sustainable approaches to urban mobility.

At a dynamic CIVITAS Forum in Aachen, top mobility experts presented the awards, with the categories acknowledging: the most ambitious transport initiatives undertaken to create a climate-neutral city; a high-impact legacy forged through CIVITAS involvement; and transforming a city into a more liveable environment.

Parma: Reducing emissions

To reach its climate goals, Parma realised that it needs to reduce local car use. To that end, the city put in place its most ambitious sustainable mobility project: a new Low Emission Zone. It is for this reason that Parma was declared the winner of this year’s ‘Climate-Neutral’ award.

“Our ambition, shared amongst the public and private organizations that are partners of the Parma Carbon Neutrality Alliance, is to reach carbon neutrality by 2030,” says Tiziana Benassi, deputy mayor for environmental sustainability from the City of Parma. “This is a very ambitious yet achievable goal if we all believe change is possible and we work every day to fight climate change. We want to promote a new mobility culture, centered on our citizens’ needs, while being more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Limiting access for the most polluting cars with the introduction of a Low Emission Zone across the entire urban area is our first step in the systemic transformation to make Parma a green and carbon-neutral city. The Green area, whose heart is the historical city centre, will contribute to a higher quality of life of everyone visiting, working and living in Parma.”

Aachen: Transforming mobility

Over the past year, Aachen has been working hard to transform its mobility landscape. It was selected as the winner of this year’s ‘Transformation’ award in recognition that, since 2020, the city has transformed 4.2km of cycling routes, built 1076 bicycle racks, built 150 new e-vehicle charging stations, introduced the first hydrogen garbage trucks in Germany, and increased the capacity of its Mobility and Planning Department.

“The CIVITAS – Transformation Award for Aachen shows that change in mobility happens,” says Uwe Müller, head of traffic planning and mobility at the Department of Urban Development, Planning and Mobility Infrastructure in Aachen. “The award is both a reward and an incentive: a reward for our young and striving team of mobility-changers, tackling all areas of mobility, and an incentive to continue this sustainable process for all – for citizens, employees, decision-making politicians, visitors and, last but not least, the surrounding region. I’m really proud to be part of this transformation in Aachen!”

Gdynia: Ongoing environmental commitment

Since 2004, when Gdynia joined its first CIVITAS project (CIVITAS TELLUS), the city has taken numerous steps to improve their mobility measures and policies. This has influenced the city’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), as well as its implementation of new bus lanes, cargo bikes, pedestrian-friendly zones, trolley- and clean buses, mobility campaigns, data management and much more. This year, Gdynia won the ‘Legacy’ award.

“Since joining the CIVITAS community, we as a city have had the great opportunity to learn, develop and implement innovative solutions, as well as to share our knowledge on sustainable mobility,” says Marek Łucyk, deputy mayor responsible for sustainable development in Gdynia, “This has increased the quality and accelerated the process of our city’s development towards a green and people-friendly city. We constantly strive to provide new and better mobility solutions and enhance citizens’ sustainable ways of life and we are happy that this has been acknowledged by the CIVITAS Initiative.”

The award ceremony was hosted by the City of Aachen and moderated by five-time TEDx speaker Dan Ram. It also acknowledged the accomplishments of runner-up cities Heraklion, Greece and Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni, Greece (Climate-neutral Award), as well as Cascais, Portugal and Budapest Hungary (Transformation Award).

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Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!